On the Waterfront – Swathi Satty

One of Elia Kazan’s movie greats is On the Waterfront, which accounts for each individual character as much as it does the scenery. The movie takes place on the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey and the concept of it being a poverty stricken neighborhood was projected from the beginning; breaths of the characters are visible which shows that its winter and this enhances the severity of their economic burden by having the characters work in almost unbearable weather conditions. Kazan intends to make the story as believable as possible so he uses certain camera techniques to get the audience more involved. There are scenes in which the camera is moving with the characters. That way, the audience feels like they are part of an intimate conversation and it allows the audience to pay more attention to the detail of the conversation. The intimate car scene at the end of the film is literally the most significant part of the entire movie. Kazan was very specific as to not make the camera so jumpy because that would distract the audience. Instead, he tunes out the neighborhood; nothing is more important than what Terry and his brother have to say. The only way to pull the audience into realizing that the scene is still in a car is by mentioning the destination and getting the taxi driver involved.

The clothing was also significant because of its “average Joe” look.  Kazan had the costume designer buy all the material from a thrift store to make the apparel look as fitting and believable as possible because his main concern was a proper delivery of Terry’s fragile financial and mental state. One of the most strategic uses of camera angles is at the end when the camera amplifies the haziness Terry was feeling after being heavily beaten. It gives an incentive for the audience to support Terry because having his perspective makes the audience feel like they are struggling to get back on to their feet as well. The music also adds to the struggle and determination he feels. This proves very successful in the audience’s full support of Terry because previously none of his coworkers supported him. Kazan also used long shots to bring Hoboken into perspective; this is all for the audience since he wants us to create our own opinion of the neighborhood and feel sympathy towards the main character who is a foil to the selfish mobsters.

The dialogue is just as significant because sticking to the colloquial slang of that time makes the story more believable because it shows the true power of the mob that killed Joey. A great example of this would be use of “canary” which is often used to refer to someone who can’t keep their mouth shut. This metaphor shows that the mob had enough of Joey’s loud mouth and figured that the best way out of the situation is to kill him; this once again shows that the mob gets whatever they want and they find something as heavy as murder, easy and most beneficial. They also use the term canary to mock how pathetic they truly find Joey; he’s able to open his mouth but can’t defend himself when he needs to which is what was meant by “he couldn’t fly.” The cheese-eater comment helps the audience get a grasp on who Terry really is. While he physically seems like a tough guy, he’s a guy who is vulnerable and has his own morals; cheese-eater refers to someone who isn’t a snitch. This definitely highlights that Terry is sensible and is not one to step on anyone’s toes, which gives the audience another reason to pity him and want the best for him. The dialogue is very colloquial which sets the mood of the poverty stricken neighborhood. These terms would certainly not be used in a wealthy neighborhood, which again allows the audience to feel sorrow for Terry and support his character development.

The presence and mention of pigeons, play a significant role because in the chaos of Terry’s life, the pigeons are the only entity that have never ceased to give him pleasure. Him sharing the pigeons with Edie shows his soft side because she must mean a lot to him if he’s willing to show her Joey’s prized possession. The line “A pigeon for a pigeon” is interesting because it starts to show the downfall in Terry’s life. The pigeons are a symbol of Terry’s vitality and once they are dead, so was his rising faith in finally feeling loved by Edie and making it in Hoboken. A pigeon for a pigeon could be used to show that one downfall lead to another and Terry is placed in a situation where he is the only one capable of picking himself up again.

The taxi scene shows Terry’s disappointment in his life. After getting in a deep discussion with Charley, he says “I coulda been a contender” had it not been for the fixed fight. This is when Charley realizes he cost his brother a prosperous life and he finally becomes the brother he failed to be by giving Terry his gun; as a brother he is finally letting his brother defend himself.  The close ups were used on purpose because the audience gets a a good visual on how the characters are feeling. The expression on Charley’s face softens when he realizes the toll the fight has taken on Terry. This is not only a revelation for Charley but one for Terry who realizes that Charley just sacrificed his own life for his good after he saw how brutally Friendly had killed Charley. As a way to repay his brother, Terry got up after being heavily beaten and goes back to work, which is the first of him heading in the right direction and taking the power away from Friendly, who is also walked over by the other workers. That discussion in the car highlights Terry’s dismay in himself and shows that underneath the tough exterior is insecurity. This epiphany, leads him into an emotional healing process even if he is physically abused. He teaches the other workers but more importantly to himself that he can have control over his own life even if the mob had physical taken control over his own.

Under the distress of losing his brother in the hands of Friendly, Terry goes to murder him with the gun Charley gave to him. But Father Barry intervenes and stops Terry. This is when Father Barry gets him a drink. Alcohol does normally help relax people but in this case, its used to bring Terry to his senses. He knows that killing Friendly is not the most effective way to get back at him because it brings him down to Friendly’s level. After gaining a new perspective, he uses words and fists to fight back at Friendly. This eventually leads to the great finale of it all, which is when Terry uses his inner strength to fight Friendly. The alcohol represents the change in Terry’s though process for his own good against Friendly.

Kazan effectively shows character development throughout this film by incorporating the audience into the life of Terry. His neighborhood doesn’t benefit him in anyway and that’s made clear by the financial struggle that everybody is going through. But regardless of his physical state of being, Terry was able to break through and become emotionally strong which is what he really needed to do to break away from Friendly who once thought of him as a pathetic individual who couldn’t even read. By allowing the audience into the mind of Terry, we can also feel the growth that Terry’s gone through.


11/26/12 – Swathi Satty

This Monday, we started discussing Catcher in the Rye which I have read as a freshman in High school. I always loved this book because of the many character flaws Holden had himself. And it was interesting to be able to compare my own analysis of Holden against is own thoughts which were very broadly shown within the novel.

We talked about the common slang of the 1950s and I noticed that the slang has drastically changed but hints of it still remained in today’s society. I like the fact that J.D Salinger made the book relatable even if the character’s thoughts might not be. I could clearly tell that this was intended for anyone to read because of the common slang terminology. I found it interesting that for a brief time, this book was actually banned for being read in schools because of its explicit sexual, profane and violent nature. But I’m glad it made it’s return because the character has so much depth that allows the readers to be easily fascinated. I’m looking forward to make my own version of a brief portion of the book because that helps us understand it even more.

We also briefly looked at Manhattan again. I realized just how a big a role music played in this film. Some of it created the fast paced lifestyle of New York which other pieces were romantic which was shown with the use of Rhapsody Blues in the very beginning of the song. This movie was perfect to our study of the arts of New York.


11/28/12 – Swathi Satty

Today, We had Professor Diaz come to analyze Manhattan with us and she spoke of cinematography,editing and sound. Sound is significant for the film Manhattan because of the use of music in integration with the plot. Mise en scene is all the elements placed in front of the camera to be photographed which is basically what makes a movie as dynamic as it is. I found it interesting that Woody Allen used 2:35:1 for each scene because it fit with the broad nature of Manhattan. It allowed me as a viewer to understand the grandness of the city. The distance from the characters is important because it effects how the viewers understand the story. The more intimate a story line, the closer the camera is to the focus point of the characters. Close-up might be profound which was often close with scenes with Tracy because she was foil to Mary which allowed character development.

The lighting is just as important as the camera angles. In Manhattan, high key lighting is rare. Low key lighting creates stronger contrasts. Manhattan used it a lot as well as The Godfather and Citizen Kane. I think it allowed the viewers to focus on the dialogue rather than the surrounding. Also the relationship between Isaac and Mary is very low key and as dark as the atmosphere the low key lighting creates. The storyboard and color are vital parts of the film. The use of color or black and white is often symbolic. I think its to enhance the classic view of New York, as often depicted in various professional photos. Basic camera movements are pan, tilt and dolly or tracking shot. The dolly shots were mostly used to Manhattan, which is mostly used to make the viewers feel like they’re part of the conversation. A take was much longer when movie making was new than it is now because editing wasn’t as advanced as it is now. But some directors purposely use long takes. In Manhattan, I felt that long takes felt more natural because the concept of the film to convey a dynamic between characters. Any extra editing would take away from the strong dialogue usage.

The transition of scenes felt so natural in this film that I didn’t find it hard to keep up with the plot line. This makes sense because the most important thing about this film is character progression. I was able to pick up on the humor as well since there wasn’t much to concentrate on. There are so many components in a film which I wasn’t even aware of. Overall, I felt that Allen was very thorough with his ideas on how the movie should be filmed because it was effective in keeping the movie flowing and not making it confusing which would defeat the purpose. I never realized just how detailed the lay out of each film has to be but I certainly respect all the effort put in. I enjoyed the last scene of Manhattan because it brought it back to the beginning of the movie when Allen showed Manhattan in this grandiose manner. I felt that this finale basically implied that life goes on even with the ups and down Isaac had. This is important to be emphasized because New York City is the city that never sleeps.

11/21/12 – Manhattan

This Wednesday, we watched a Woody Allen film called “Manhattan”. I have heard of Woody Allen before but never witnessed any of his works. My first impression of the film was that it was odd but amusing. I felt like it was realistic even though it was over exaggerated and the dry sense of humor kept me on my toes. Before we watched the film, we were given a series of questions to consider after watching clips from two other films.

1. How does the camera function?The camera played a vital role in the film because of its variations. One moment the camera would follow the characters from one end of the street to the other. At other times, it would remain in one place and we would watch the characters enter the scene and then exit the scene all in one shot. But what was most interesting was that it was used in such a way that the viewers were able to capture all the dialogue which is perhaps the most important factor of the entire film because of its wittiness and relevance to the progression of the film. The camera was sometimes placed in the dark so the audience wasn’t distracted by the surroundings; in that moment all that mattered was the dialogue.

2. What is the director’s approach towards framing scenes with people? The director often made the characters the focus of the scene. For example, the one scene when Isaac, Yale, Tracy and Mary were walking out of the museum together. The director had them exactly in the center because their dynamic amongst themselves mattered to the progression of the film. At other times, the director purposefully took the characters out of focus because their dialogue mattered more. Both techniques were intertwined together in such a manner that it properly delivers the message of the movie.

3. What impact does the b&w v. color have? The use of black and white shows that regardless of the time period in which this plot took place, the relationship issues that people deal with are the same and will forever be the same. The situations dealt with are very modern but the black and white sets its timelessness and also addresses the setting. Since the movie is in the city, the use of black and white enhances the timelessness of the city life and also addresses the chaos that exists.

4. Generally, how long do the clips (edits) last? It definitely varied. At times the transition wad very quick and at times it was long; it depended on the relevance of that particular scene to the film as a whole.

5. The dialogue was fit for city folk. It felt natural and not forced and that made the plot line so much more believable. At the same time, the dialogue was full of humor.

6. What is the role of costume in each scene? The clothing was very middle class which is exactly what the characters are. So it didn’t dominate in any way or distract the audience from the significance of the dialogue. It kept it realistic and appropriate.

7. What is the role of music in each scene? The music wasn’t as important as some other factors. In fact, I hardly remember hearing any music at all. Once again, this might have been the director’s approach to figuring out what mattered and what didn’t and the music didn’t have much relevance.

8. What is the role of the set in the movie? The setting took place in various areas of Manhattan and it was important in terms of the who the characters were. Their lives were as chaotic as city life and drawing attention to that, enhanced the chaos of each character’s lives.

Overall, I enjoyed watching this film because it’s a film like no other. I’m curious to see what other films Woody Allen directed and acted in because his style is very appealing. This film was also very appropriate to the class since it focused on the “Arts of New York”. I look forward to viewing other films and opening myself up to different genres and such.

11/19/12 – Swathi Satty

Wednesday was the last of the poem recitations and I was the first to go. I was quite nervous but the experience was helpful because I learned something new about my poem. I was initially reading it almost like it was a song but then I learned that if I use pauses in appropriate places, I can properly portray the meaning of the poem. I enjoyed my poems because they’re such a contrast to each other and New York was integrated well into the poems. The toughest part for me was actually going up. But I realized that after you actually go up, you just recite the poem and get into character and the presentation goes back much faster.

My favorite poem recitation of Wednesday was Stephanie’s because she brought life to her poem. Her physical behavior was very patriotic which is appropriate to the poem. I learned a lot from this experience because I always used to read poems all in one way. But now I realized that different poems must be read in different ways to properly project the meaning of the poem.

I also realized just how good of an inspiration New York since so many different poems were based off of the culture in New York. It makes sense since New York is so diverse and it’s a great melting of different emotions. Overall, I enjoyed this entire experience.




11/14/12-Swathi Satty

Yesterday, was part 3 of the poem recitations. The first person to go up was Brendon and I learned the significance of pronouncing words properly because “used to” and “i’d used to” are two separate things, which was a mistake he made in his first poem “Checkmate”.In his poem, there was a lot of alliteration and imagery. The chess game was symbolic because the rooks could have been seen as being the twin towers. Once again, the way the poems are read makes all the difference. The second poem “Birthplace” had to be read with a little bit more rhythm and when it was, I clearly saw all the alliteration in it. The second one was much more energized and I had a better understanding of the words when the poem was read with rhythm.

Rob’s poem was interesting and once again this poem had to be read with rhythm because it was written about the blues in that manner. After Professor Kahan played the piano in the background, Rob got a better feel of the poem and I was able to understand the poem better. The most memorable poem for me was Penina’s because of the meaning of the poem. We can all relate to the fact that New York is the city that never sleeps and Penina read in an aggressive manner and showed that the narrator was clearly tired of the artificiality of New York. I suppose I could relate more to this poem than any other because I have also wondered about how life would be different if I lived in a place where the surroundings were predominantly natural. I also found it fascinating that while the narrator and I had the same outlook, we look at it in different ways; she feels aggressive over it which I just feel curious.

I noticed that while reading the poems, the students had to take a lot of criticism from Professor Kahan and then properly translate it when having to re-read the poems. If I fail to properly deliver the poem this Monday, I hope I can also properly consider her criticism and enhance the meaning of the poem. This is significant since the other students don’t have the poem in front of them.

11/12/12 – Swathi Satty

Today we received a presentation from Professor Richard Powers who did a talk on architectural history. He started off by saying that some scholars called architecture “ethnos” which is a frame for the time of society. Parthenon (447-438 BC) shows how western civilzation was during that time. It symbolizes the intellectual standing of those who built Partheton; it towers over everybody. A replica of Parthenon exists in Nashville. Another iconic building is called Monticello (little mountain) which is Roman as shown by the dome shape of the building. This allows the intellect over order over the world. The federal  style Massachusetts State House, 1798 shows the power of the founding fathers. The St. Paul’s Chapel, in 1776 is in Downtown. The trim around the windows is made of limestone and the use of brick shows its Georgian style architecture. The US capitol is roman and federal style which shows a rational approach to the world and the power in its function. Another federal style, neoclassical is Gracie Mansion.

Federal Hall, at the end of Wall Street, represents where President George Washington was inaugurated but the original was actually torn down.  It’s also greek revival because the success of Greece is shown through their use of Slaves which is what US did as well. The customs House is now a museum of American Indian; the building shows western civilization which is ironic to what it is now. Beaux-Arts architecture shows the dominance of Western Civilization over the world. In 1840’s is the transition from neoclassical to Gothic architecture which is shown by the pointed arches which shows religious. This ties America into Christianity. This transitions America from rational to sentimental and religious.

The Brooklyn Bridge is all steel and suspension. While it is sturdy and built for travel, it’s also highly religious because of its Gothic arches. The Engineers had to be careful because they didnt want to be seen as wanting to break away from their faith but they also have to make sure that the building is fully functional.Central Park also has also a Gothic feel but is mostly romantic. Its not symmetrical and it shows that even in a big city, you can live in a green neighborhood even if its not natural. Woolworth Building, 1913 is of Gothic Style and resides on city hall park. George Washington Bridge is an honest architecture because everything on the bridge serves an engineering purpose. This shows its rationality which is a roman way of thinking. The first skyscrapers were mostly of Beaux-Arts architecture or Gothic. The Chrysler Building, made in 1930, represents the role of modern life; the speed of life. The observations aid in the design of the building (streamlines, etc.). This is a gentle swift from historical revival because the role of engineers is more dominant. While the building is high, it was engineered to look high. The trim is of black marble and stainless steel which creates a shiny effect. The empire state building is made in a similar way in 1931. Buildings of this style promote and glamorize Capitalism.

The Rockefeller Center promotes capitalism as well since it asks to magnify everything. The big change is right after world war I which produced a generation of engineers who are very far to the left, some of them being communists.This kind of style is very present in our society now because we are a very capitalist based country.

Overall, I learned a lot about the role of buildings and how it represents what mattered most to the citizens of Western Civilization. As the focus of the westerners changed throughout the years, the building styles also changed to reflect the fascinations or interests of society. I really enjoyed Professor Powers’s presentation because it really aided in our study of the Arts of New York.

11/7/12 – Poem Recitation

On Wednesday, our class continued the poem recitations. On Monday, I missed class so I was curious about how the process worked. I didn’t even realize the purpose of having Shumaila go right after Christian because both poems were “snapshots”. While both poems might have been snapshot poems, they both had a different feel to it. Shumaila’s poem was more satirical and it was evident on her final performance when she pretended to have fun with the poem. The first few times, I was confused about the real meaning behind the poem but after Shumaila changed up her performance, I clearly understood. That’s when I realized that the words of a poem are meaningless unless some sort of performance is put behind it. A sad poem would never be sad if the narrator was hyper and excited.

After listening to all five of the performances done this wednesday, I realized that all revolved around New York and that in the eyes of many poets, the astounding nature of New York is root for inspiration. And many poems just liked to feed out of simply visually viewing New York such as in the case of Andrew’s poem which was simply about the day to day activities that happen on the Staten Island Ferry. His poem brought back memories of “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” by Walt Whitman. It shows that as vibrant as the city can be, the behavior and dynamic of the residents and tourists has always been the same and will continue to be the same. One of my favorite performances of Wednesday was Andrew’s because he wrote his own poem and his poem tied very nicely with the theme of the other two poems he had to recite.

I was able to learn something by observing the performances of those who presented this Wednesday. In order to properly recite the poem, we would have to interpret the poem and feel the meaning. It might not be exactly what the poet is trying to bring across but as long as we can support it, it will be a convincing performance. Hopefully, I can do the same this Monday.

10/24/12 – Swathi Satty

Today in seminar, we looked at the 19th century and a lot of the literature and music spoke about disassociation from land and a sense of nationalism because of the newly developed Bourgeoisie. This forced people to have to leave their habitat and go into the city to find work. With the rise of the Bourgeoisie, comes a much better standard of living. So there was more time to read books and enjoy music. People also started to question their purpose in live; the beginning of the concern of individualism. This is past the period of the enlightenment but people didn’t question the supremacy of the church but their role in society.

During this time, Mary Shelley came out with Frankenstein and the Grimm brothers who wrote the Grimm tales which shows the dark side that people can play in society. Towards the end of the century, is a new revolution, right after the civil war in U.S. People would earn their money in urban societies which places the stresses of capitalism on people’s shoulders. Victor Hugo wrote hunchback of Notre Dame during the end of the 19th century. This is the beginning of the movement towards realism which is shown in Henry James’s Washington Square. Walt Whitman uses realism and gives the readers his own unique perspective.  Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is an example of how Whitman uses this method when he takes something as common as traveling on the ferry and relates it to the future generation. Using his observations, he concludes that the future is not going to be much different than present day.

The emancipation of slavery shifts everything even more towards an urban lifestyle; slaves migrate towards the cities. Whitman elevates the glory of urban lifestyle in his poetry while showing the beauty of the farm side. His image is patriotic but through the perspective of a working class member in regards to both farm and industrial work.

In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Whitman often uses different perspectives by personally connecting to the people in the ferry but then looking at people as a whole (looking into the clouds) which also shows his use of mixing realism with his own perspective. He uses repetition to tie the man made and nature made images that he sees to say that what is physically present at the time will be ever lasting because generations after will see and experience the same images. His use of repetition provides comfort and relates to the rhythm of the boat which rocks back and forth. As the boat keeps moving, life continues to keep the same rhythm in which even if generations pass, people will board on and off the boat. This shows that not much is going to change in the future.

Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” – Swathi Satty

While reading Walt Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”, I immediately noticed the use of repetition and realized that it was used to constantly bring the reader’s focus back onto the point he is making. Basically, Whitman says that even if each individual has his/her own experiences, we can all relate on the fact that we still share the same land, making us no different than our neighbor. He admits his curiosity and and unfamiliarity with the different sorts of people that enter Manhattan and Brooklyn but then realize that all of them are standing under the same sun and under the same seagulls that were “high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies.”(Stanza 3). Such lines have been repeated throughout the poem, almost to pull him back to the reality of the situation which is that even if his personal life may be different than the culture and lifestyles of so many others, they still function the same as human beings. An example is shown when Waltman writes through the narrator “lived the same life with the rest, the same laughing, gnawing, sleeping.” (Stanza 6)

His observations made them question what real line is drawn between people that makes them believe that they aren’t compatible or approving of someone else because in many ways, we still see the same things and have the same reactions: when we think something’s funny, we laugh. When we find something upsetting, we frown. And he realizes that New York is a huge melting pot and he realizes just how much he respects New York for being such a great blender of different people. Coming to the realization that we are all the same in such a big city as New York, made the narrator fall in love with the city and embrace it for the unity that it brings and will continue to bring, as the narrator feels not much will change in the future in terms of how we resemble each other.

The gender of the narrator is not specified but perhaps that was Whitman’s way of saying that gender doesn’t make much of a difference because all people still experience similar situations in such a vibrant city. The use of the Brooklyn Ferry is that it allows the narrator to look at people from all different backgrounds. Tourists and residents use the ferry to get around so the narrator is fully able to observe different cultures yet see how the tourists behave the same as he/does.